PUTRAJAYA: Despite the collapse of the coalition he led, Dr Mahathir Mohamad now appears to be in the strongest position to form a new government, as MPs across the country’s political blocs declare support for the veteran 95-year-old leader.
A source close to Mahathir’s inner circles said with the removal of all Cabinet appointments, he could now “start afresh” and form a new team from among the 222 MPs in Parliament.
“A major complaint in the last two years is that Mahathir did not have a good team. Now is the time he picks and chooses, since support for him has been coming from across almost all party blocs,” the source said.
Shocking developments since Sunday ended yesterday with the collapse of Pakatan Harapan, the four-member coalition led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad which came to power in May 2018.
This followed Mahathir’s resignation yesterday, after a day of political manoeuvres among MPs from PPBM, Umno, PAS and others intent on forming a new coalition to take power.
Mahathir has also resigned as the chairman of PPBM, which has since announced it is no longer part of PH, but declared its loyalty to its former leader.
Meanwhile, PKR’s parliamentary strength took a blow after its deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali and vice-president Zuraida Kamaruddin were sacked over their involvement in negotiations with leaders from the opposition parties to form a new coalition.
This was followed by nine of its MPs quitting the party and forming an independent bloc.
It was apparent that the meetings on Sunday were aimed at removing DAP from federal power, while blocking PKR president Anwar Ibrahim from succeeding Mahathir.
A source told FMT that Mahathir initially had given his blessing for such a political realignment as a way of putting out growing infightings in PH as well as pressures on him to transfer power to Anwar.
The source said, however, that Mahathir took a step back after learning that the move was attracting “all sorts of crooks” from the former government.
“That made him think twice and he refused to go ahead,” it said.
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng had made similar comments.
“Tun Dr Mahathir clearly stated that he cannot work with Umno when we worked so hard to reject Umno successfully in the 2018 general election,” Lim said in calling for Mahathir to return to the top post.
When asked, the source refused to comment on what transpired.
“It is no longer relevant now,” it added.
The biggest question now, ahead of audiences with the Agong today to decide on who will form the next government, is who has the numbers.
“No one has the numbers, except Mahathir,” said the source.
The source claims that Anwar still cannot come up with a strong political bloc.
Checks by FMT have led to different estimates on political loyalties among MPs.
But a rough estimate would show that Anwar currently has just over 90 MPs with him including those from DAP and Amanah, while a rival group seeking to block his political ambition, has at least 105, including from Umno.
“About two dozen MPs are what we consider floating MPs. They can sway either way,” said one source.
The source however said Mahathir would be well advised against approaching the “floating MPs”, as history could repeat itself.
“He is already spoilt for choice. He can pick who he wants.
“Whether he would go for the bloc joined by Azmin and the so-called Malay bloc remains to be seen. But for now, DAP and Amanah MPs are Mahathir’s to keep,” said the source.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is expected to grant audiences to MPs in several batches.
FMT has also learnt that leaders of five parties are strategising a plan to form a majority in Parliament, ahead of their royal audience to convince the Agong.